| Share
 

Edward Gierek

Gierek, Edward (gyĕˈrĕk) [key], 1913–2001, Polish politician, b. Porąbka. His family emigrated to France, where he was raised. He joined the French Communist party in 1931 and was later deported to Poland for organizing a strike. He went to Belgium, joining the Communist party there. He returned to Poland in 1948 and rose through the party ranks to become by 1957 a member of the Polish parliament. In 1959 he regained the politburo seat that he had occupied briefly in 1956. As first secretary of the Katowice city party organization (1957–70), Gierek created a personal power base and became the recognized leader of the young technocrat faction of the party.

When rioting over economic conditions broke out in late 1970, Gierek replaced Władysław Gomułka as party first secretary. Gierek promised economic reform and, with the aid of foreign loans, instituted a program to modernize industry and increase the availability of consumer goods. The economy, however, began to falter during the 1973 oil crisis, and by 1976 price increases became necessary. New riots broke out, and although they were forcibly suppressed, the increases were rescinded. High foreign debts, food shortages, and an outmoded industrial base compelled a new round of economic reforms in 1980. Once again, price increases set off protests across the country, and Gierek was forced to grant legal status to Solidarity and to concede the right to strike. Shortly thereafter, he was replaced as party leader by Stanisław Kania.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Polish History: Biographies


Premium Partner Content
HighBeam Research
Documents Images and Maps Reference
(from Newspapers, Magazines, Journals, Newswires, Transcripts and Books)

Research our extensive archive of more than 80 million articles from 6,500 publications.

Additional search results provided by HighBeam Research, LLC. © Copyright 2005. All rights reserved.

24 X 7

Private Tutor

Click Here for Details
24 x 7 Tutor Availability
Unlimited Online Tutoring
1-on-1 Tutoring